Multnomah Falls, Oregon

Multnomah Falls in April 2008

I have mixed feelings about Multnomah Falls. At 600+ feet tall, the waterfall is one amazing sight. The scenery around the waterfall is just as amazing. Even the pedestrian bridge adds a charming feeling. Surprisingly, crossing the bridge is not as bad as I thought it would be, especially for somebody not fond of heights :).

On the other hand, this is one busy waterfall. It’s a tall waterfall and it requires finding just the right place to take a picture of most of the waterfall. And that’s the problem…there are so many people there that everybody’s standing in your way. I’m sure I was standing in somebody’s way at some point. It’s unavoidable. There are just so many other waterfalls in the area that aren’t as busy. When hiking to Elowah Falls and Upper Latourell Falls, I was the only one on the trail. I do enjoy a certain amount of quiet when hiking to falls.

There are other waterfalls above Multnomah Falls, but beware. The trailhead is accessed by crossing the bridge and then heading up the left side of the falls. Think about it, though…You’ll be climbing 600+ feet in about a mile. This means rather steep switchbacks. I probably got 4/5 of the way there, and just gave up. (A few years later, I did succeed on my second visit/attempt at seeing Weisendanger Falls.) My suggestion would be that if you want to try seeing those other waterfalls, start early in the day before you’ve visited multiple other waterfalls. Dress in layers also, as you’re likely to get very warm while hiking up, even if it’s not that warm out.

Directions:

  1. Take the exit off of I-84 toward the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Trail, and follow the road. It’s pretty hard to miss Multnomah Falls. The parking for the falls is actually right in the middle of the road. Don’t forget to check out the numerous other waterfalls in the area.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 620′
Length of Hike: Roadside

A smaller waterfall near Multnomah Falls

Where in the World is Multnomah Falls?

Bridal Veil Falls, Oregon

Bridal Veil Falls in April 2008

Bridal Veil Falls is another one of those amazingly beautiful waterfalls found along the Columbia River Gorge on the Oregon side. This is the first waterfall that I visited there. It is one of the easier waterfalls to visit, though it actually cannot be seen directly from the road.

In order to view the falls, you have to head from the parking lot toward the trail and take the 1/4 mile trail. It does have a small gradient, but it is a beautiful trail. When I visited in early May, the trail was surrounded with Western Bleeding Hearts. The waterfall has a great viewing area at the end of the trail.

Directions:

  1. From I-84, take Exit 28 and get onto the Historic Columbia River Highway.
  2. From the exit, look for milepost 28, where you’ll find the parking area for Bridal Veil Falls. It’s a little bit hidden, but not that hard to find at all.

Accessibility: 8/10 (easy/moderate)
Height: 118′
Length of Hike: 0.5 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Bridal Veil Falls?

Shepperd’s Dell Falls, Oregon

Shepperd’s Dell Falls in May 2010

Of all the roadside waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge, Shepperd’s Dell Falls is the easiest to miss. That may be partly because it doesn’t seem to be as admired as the other waterfalls in the area. It’s not that it’s not beautiful, it’s just not very photogenic. (Update: I did find it to be more photogenic during my second visit in May 2010…just seemed to be better views to be had.)

The waterfall is hidden off of the road, and you have to pay attention. Otherwise, you might miss the sign and “parking area” for the falls. The parking area isn’t really a parking area, but more a pullout from the road. Once you park and get out to view the falls, you’ll be able to get rather close to the falls. You can get a few feet from the falls. The issue with that is that it does not provide the whole view of the falls, which is rather spectacular. The photo to the right includes most of the falls, though I think there’s still more below. You’ll have to search for the most complete view of the falls, which may be randomly along the short trail to the crest. I still want to encourage people in the Columbia River Gorge to view Shepperd’s Dell Falls, as it is much prettier I expected.

Directions:

  1. From I-84, get onto the Historic Columbia River Highway.
  2. If you are driving east on the highway, the parking area will be on the right, though there may be parking on the other side. The waterfall is found between Latourell Falls and Bridal Veil Falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 220′
Length of Hike: Roadside

Where in the World is Shepperd’s Dell Falls?

Horsetail Falls, Oregon

Horsetail Falls in April 2008

It’s sorta hard to miss Horsetail Falls! It’s only a few feet from the road. It was so close that it was hard to avoid getting the stop sign in the picture!

Besides being one of the most accessible waterfalls you could possibly imagine, it’s also a very pretty waterfall. It’s not the tallest or the most spectacular in the Columbia River Gorge, but you’ve still gotta check it out! While you’re there, you can check out another waterfall, Ponytail Falls, which is on the same creek.

Directions:

  1. As long as you’re driving along the Columbia River Scenic Byway, you’ll find this falls. I think it’s to the west of Multnomah Falls, the most famous of the falls here. It’s to the east of the parking area for Elowah Falls.
  2. The parking area for the falls is across the street.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 214′
Length of Hike: Roadside

Where in the World is Horsetail Falls?

Upper Latourell Falls, Oregon

Upper Latourell Falls in April 2008

Many of the waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge are visible from the road or require extremely short hikes to get to them. Others require much longer hikes. Upper Latourell Falls is right square in the middle. It cannot be directly viewed from the road, but the hike is not terribly long either.

Even so, parts of the hike to the falls are steep. Just think…as you’re on the trail to Upper Latourell Falls, you’ve got to hike right up near the top of Latourell Falls, which is 200+ feet. After you’ve climbed this rather steep section, it does get easier. The hike on the way up is the hard part. Coming back down, not as much. Along the way, you may enjoy many different wildflowers if they’re in season. Corydalis and Bleeding Hearts were blooming profusely when in visited in late April 2008.

Directions:

  1. The trail to Latourell Falls and Upper Latourell Falls is found on the western-most portion of the Columbia Gorge Scenic Road (off of I-84 east of Portland). The parking lot for Latourell Falls is very easy to find.
  2. From here, if you want to access the Upper Falls, take the left trail, which starts heading up instead of down. From this trail, you will get some great views of Latourell Falls.
  3. Once you reach Upper Latourell Falls, it appears that you can continue looping on this trail. I tried, but gave up after a while and connecting back onto the original trail by crossing the river on a tree (which was easier than it sounds).

Accessibility: 4/10 (moderate/strenuous)
Height: 125′
Length of Hike: 2.25 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Upper Latourell Falls?

Ponytail Falls, Oregon

Ponytail Falls is one of the “hidden” waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge, considering that you can not directly view Ponytail Falls from the road. There’s a moderately steep hike involved with visiting this waterfall.

Ponytail Falls is on the same creek as Horsetail Falls, and is sometimes called Upper Horsetail Falls. Horsetail Falls is directly viewed from the road. If you’re in the Horsetail Falls area, visit Ponytail Falls also, though the hike is somewhat steep. I don’t think it was awful, but I had already tired myself out hiking or trying to hike to other “hidden” falls. Of the falls not visible from the road, this is one of the more accessible ones. Everything’s relative, though!

Directions:

  1. From I-84, get onto the Columbia Gorge scenic highway.
  2. Head west on the highway to Horsetail Falls, which is west of Multnomah Falls.
  3. From the parking lot where you view Horsetail Falls, take the trail that leads to Ponytail Falls.
  4. I think the trail is about 0.4 miles one-way, but it is steep, so it does seem longer.

Accessibility: 5/10 (moderate)
Height: 80′
Length of Hike: 0.8 miles round-trip

Ponytail Falls in late April 2008

Where in the World is Ponytail Falls?

Wahkeena Falls, Oregon

Wahkeena Falls in April 2008

Wahkeena Falls is one of the many waterfalls viewable directly from the Historic Columbia River Highway. There is clearly marked parking for the falls. The only slightly confusing thing is that the falls can be accessed from the interconnected system of trails, and so you may be at another waterfall and see a sign saying Wahkeena Falls is some distance away by trail. Unless you really like hiking, just look for the major parking area.

The falls are extremely beautiful and rather complex. At the parking area, you can see the falls in its 240′ entirety, which involves the main drops and a multitude of cascades below the main drops. In order to access the main drops, you have to hike on the clearly marked, short, but moderately steep paved trail. I believe that trail continues onto Multnomah Falls. After hiking up the trail, you will see the second drop very clearly, as it will be feet away from you. The first drop becomes more difficult to see at that angle. There is a lot of spray from the falls, so be sure to cover your camera lens.

Directions:

  1. From I-84, get onto the Historic Columbia River Highway.
  2. Look for the Wahkeena Falls parking lot as you’re driving along the highway. It will be to the west of the Multnomah Falls parking area.

Accessibility: 10/10 (roadside view), 8/10 (trail to the falls)
Height: 240′
Length of Hike: 0.5 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Wahkeena Falls?